New Orleans Area Woman Sentenced to more than Four Years in Prison for Role in Approximately $2 Million Home Health Kickback and Identity Theft Scheme
WASHINGTON – A New Orleans woman was sentenced today to 51 months in prison for her involvement in a $2 million home health kickback scheme carried out through eight companies at nursing homes in four states in the Southeastern United States.
Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans of the Eastern District of Louisiana, Special Agent in Charge Eric J. Rommal of the FBI’s New Orleans Field Office and Special Agent in Charge C.J. Porter of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Dallas Field Office made the announcement.
Kim Ricard, 51, of Gonzales, Louisiana was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Jane Triche Milazzo of the Eastern District of Louisiana, who also ordered Ricard to pay $1.958 million in restitution. On Sept. 7, 2017, the defendant was convicted of one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks, three counts of receiving kickbacks, three counts of identity theft and one count of making false statements to federal agents.
According to evidence presented at trial, from 2008 to 2013, Kim Ricard and others engaged in a scheme to refer mentally ill Medicare patients to home health agencies in and around New Orleans in exchange for kickbacks. The evidence further established that Ricard unlawfully used the Medicare identification information of three Medicare beneficiaries in connection with the scheme. Ricard then made false statements to federal investigators about her conduct, the evidence showed. As a result of the scheme, Ricard’s co-conspirator caused Medicare to pay over $1.9 million based on those illegally-obtained referrals.
Co-defendant Milton Diaz, 65, of Harvey, Louisiana, pleaded guilty on July 13, 2017 and is awaiting sentencing.
The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, and brought by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Kate Payerle and Claire Yan of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged over 3,000 defendants who collectively have billed the Medicare program for over $11 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/health-care-fraud-unit.